PITTSBURGH - Flyers forward Brayden Schenn has been extremely inconsistent this season, stirring rumors that general manager Ron Hextall might put him on the trading block this summer.
But Schenn, who is just 23 despite playing in six NHL seasons, has also shown glimpses of dominance - such as his fourth two-goal performance of the season in Wednesday's 4-1 win in Pittsburgh - that make him such an intriguing player.
Is Schenn someone who is just scratching his potential and one of the Flyers' building blocks? Or is he someone who was overvalued during his draft class (fifth overall by Los Angeles in 2009) and will not blossom into a high-scoring top-six forward?
Those are questions Hextall will have to answer this summer, but the general manager seems to be leaning toward giving Schenn and center Sean Couturier - another young forward who hasn't progressed as quickly as the Flyers had hoped - more time to develop.
"It's a process," Hextall said.
Translation: Be patient, Flyers fans.
Coach Craig Berube conceded he was disappointed with the goal production of Schenn (16 goals) and Couturier (13). Schenn was played mostly on the first two lines, while Couturier, known for his defensive work, has centered the second line in the second half of the season.
Still, Schenn has equaled a career high with 41 points. Couturier, hindered by starting a majority of plays in the defensive zone, has just 31 points, eight fewer than last year's final total.
"I feel like the season's had its ups and downs, and I still feel like I have a lot more to give," said Schenn, who had just two goals in a 34-game stretch this season. "At the same time, I have [five] games left, and I'm trying to end the season on a positive note."
Schenn doesn't hide the fact he is much more comfortable at center. He played mostly center when he had a career-high 20 goals last year. He has been primarily used at wing this season.
Like Schenn, Couturier, 22, has not been consistent. He described his season as "all right."
"Obviously, I'd like to produce more offensively," Couturier said. "I'm getting tons of scoring chances, and I just have to capitalize. If I would have scored on every breakaway I've had, I'd be close to 20 goals by now. Hopefully, I can finish strong, and next year take another step forward."
The Flyers play the lowly Hurricanes in Raleigh, N.C., on Saturday afternoon. The Flyers have lost their last 10 games (0-6-4) against non-playoff teams. Conversely, they are on a 10-1-4 run against teams in playoff spots. . . . On Thursday, the Flyers will hold Autism Awareness Night during their home game against Carolina. Many autism organizations will be guests, and families will sit in special autism-friendly lounges.